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June 21, 1996     The Message
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June 21, 1996

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana JI " Research center projects fewer priests for most of next 25 By JERRY FH./[T_JU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- If U.S. vocations to the priesthood start to rise gradually nowhe decline in active diocesan prk.s since the late 1960s could bot- tom out sometime around 2012 to 2015, according to a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. While two-thirds of dioceses it studied are likely to have fewer priests by 2020, about one-third "are projected to in- crease or hold steady in active priest population between now and 2020;" the center said. Figures supplied by 66 dioce- ses show that currently 60 per- cent of their priests are 55 or older, and 25 percent of those -- 15 percent of all the priests -- are over 75, the center said. It published its findings in the spring issue of The CARA Report, its quarterly newslet- ter. CARA is an independent Catholic research institute based at Georgetown Univer- sity in Washington. It reported that 11 percent of priests in the study were under 40 and 29 percent were ages 40- 54. Twenty-two percent were ages 55-64 and 23 percent 65-74. Just over half the dioceses re- ported a policy of priest retire- ment at age 70. Fourteen per- cent set retirement at 65 years, 27 percent at 75, and a few at some other age in between. CARA drew its data from a study begun &apos;last December when it contacted all Latin-rite dioceses in the country, offering to do tailored projections of their clergy numbers to the year 2020. Sixty-six dioceses or archdio- ceses -- nearly a third of the total -- supplied complete data on the current ages of their priests. CARA said its projections to the year 2020 were based on, tailored projections it has com- pleted for 31 of those dioceses, about one-sixth of the nation's total. The current total of active priests in those dioceses is 3,643, or an average of 118 per diocese, it said. It projected that if current trends continue, the number of active priests in those diocese will drop to 3,413 in 2000, to 2,802 in 2010, and to 2,502 in 2020. At that rate, the diocese that started with 118 active priests would have 81 in 2020. CARA projected moderately higher figures if all dioceses were to move retirement age up to 75. By 2020 the average diocese would have four more active priests than otherwise projected. If all dioceses dropped retire- ment age to 65, however, the average number of active priests per diocese would drop from 118 now to 73 in 2020, it said. Projecting gradual increases in the number of ordinations with no change in retirement policies, CARA said still fewer 2020 than gap will be smalle scribed the increase jected as "a servative estimate."  If the increases CARA age of active ceses studied will ( 118 currently to 11 and 98 in 2010, 99 by 2020. CARA cautionea the dioceses "fairly rep graphically, theyl sarily country in terms or future active nation trends. Fewer seminary theology students reported for U.S. By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The number of post-college U.S. Catholic seminarians dropped nearly 5 percent last year, according to a new report by the Center for Applied Re- search in the Apostolate. There were 3,172 candidates for the priesthood in Catholic theology schools in 1995-96, down 156 from the 3328 en- rolled in 1994-95, said CARA, an independent Catholic re- search agency based at George- town University. It was the" third straight year of decline after a slight rise in the figures in 1992-93. Most of the decline occurred among candidates preparing for priesthood in religious or- ders. Their total dropped from 923 in 1994-95 to 812 in 1995- 96. In the same period the hum- ber of candidates for diocesan priesthood in theologates dropped from 2,405 to 2,360. CARA has been collecting yearly data on U.S. seminaries and seminarians each fall for more than 25 years. Researcher Bryan T. Froehle, editor of the quarterly newslet- ter The CARA Report, said May 21 that the center plans to re- lease data on high school and college seminarians later, after conducting further checks to as- sure that its figures in those categories are complete and ac- curate. The new theology figures show that the number of candi- dates in final years of study for the priesthood has declined more than 50 percent in the past quarter-century. In 1970 there were 6,426 seminarians enrolled in U.S. theology schools. In 1995 there were more seminarians in first year theol- ogy -- 707 compared with 671 in 1994 -- and in fourth year theology -- 575 compared with 570 the previous year. But the figures for 1995 were lower than those fbr 1994 in the categories of pretheol- ogy, pastoral year, on leave, and second, third and fifth years of theology. The total number of semi- narians in the traditional four years of theology that once made up virtually the entire student body in theologates was 2,423. There were ogy, 71 in fifth 1 160 in a pastorm on leave. In all there in some extra lege prep four-year theology I formerly VIP CLEANING SERVICE COMPANY, INC. Y (!arpet/(lt)holstery (h,aning "r = Mention this ad and receive a 10' discount = 428-4188] "'IWllct'(' <'t,cQy ('tt,s'lottter t's (z VERY IMIOt'I'ANT I'EILg()N'" iiii i i "Where customers send their friends!"  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